Food at the Fringe!

We spent most of the weekend at the Fringe, which not only meant watching quite a number of shows, but also having the opportunity to sample food from several vendors, both on and off the Fringe site.

Green onion cakes

Green onion cakes are a perennial Fringe favourite

Chocolate Covered Bananas

A vendor dedicated entirely to chocolate covered bananas!

Deli Manjoo!

Deli Manjoo, small, custard-filled cakes were only found at Capital Ex…until now

We encountered Big City Cupcakes on Saturday just before entering the grounds. It turns out the Kelowna-based franchise is set to take Edmonton by storm, with a location in Kingsway Mall opening this week, another coming soon in City Centre downtown, and more in the works.

Big City Cupcakes

Big City Cupcakes

They pride themselves on using all natural ingredients, and never sell day-old cupcakes. They also offer gluten-free cupcakes on select days. At $4 a pop, they’re definitely charging more than their competitors, but then again, their cupcakes are about twice the size of those found at Whimsical or Flirt.

Big City Cupcakes

Chocolate Mounds and New York Chocolate Cheesecake flavours

The Chocolate Mounds (chocolate cupcake with a ganache centre topped with coconut butter cream, rolled in coconut and drizzled with ganache) was intensely sweet, but chocoholics would love it. Mack liked his Chocolate Cheesecake (chocolate cupcake baked in homemade cheesecake filling and topped with cream cheese icing), as it really did manage to capture cheesecake flavours in a mini-cake form. We were also lucky enough to be given the After Dinner Mint cupcake to try for free, and it ended up being my favourite of the three – the refreshing mint icing lightened the dense chocolate cake. As much as I love the occasional cupcake, I wonder if Edmonton can support several more cupcakeries – I guess time will tell.

Zaika is new to the Fringe this year, and though we didn’t try it yet, their sleek, monochromatic booth caught my eye. I also am intrigued by their menu, which deviates from the usual tandoori/butter chicken offerings of other Indian food booths (Jean Poutine blogged about it here).

Zaika

Zaika

Set up next to Zaika is Rustixx Wood Fired Pizza, which we first saw in Calgary a few weeks back at Fiestaval. Rustixx is a mobile food cart that offers wood-fired thin-crust pizza, not a small feat given they have to tow the oven around.

Rustixx

Rustixx’s wood-fired oven (it gets up to 900F!)

They make nine different pizzas, ranging in price from $10-15. We opted for the meat lovers ($13), featuring pepperoni, bacon and sausage.

Rustixx

Meat lovers pizza

Our experience with Vince and Colleen’s wood-fired oven this summer led us to believe that the Rustixx pizza would have a similarly crispy crust (our preference), but it didn’t. It was chewy; the kind of crust that invites eaters to fold it over like a sandwich (something Famoso advised in its early days). Not unpleasant, but not what I was expecting either. The toppings were great though – subtly tangy sauce, fair amount of cheese, and particularly delectable sausage.

On Sunday, we had some time to kill between shows, so wandered away for the day’s eats.

Fat Franks

Fat Franks is never a bad choice

I’d been meaning to check out Cha Island Tea Co. (10332 81 Avenue) for a while, and finally had the time and proximity to do so.

Cha Island Tea Co.

Cha Island Tea Co.

Facing south on 81 Avenue, Cha was a quiet (air-conditioned) refuge from the Fringe bustle, making it a great stop in between shows. With the bright walls, natural light, and reggae music, I felt like I had stepped off the street and into a soothing retreat.

Cha Island Tea Co.

In addition to drinks and light fare, they also sell loose leaf teas

Given the name of the place, I knew I should have ordered tea, but for whatever reason, felt more like an iced coffee ($3.75) that day. It was all right, but a bit watered down. Mack’s green apple iced tea ($3.75), on the other hand, was something that will have me coming back. The sweet and tangy flavours were balanced perfectly, and really, both drinks were very generously sized (in plastic-sealed cups often associated with bubble tea).

Cha Island Tea Co.

Green apple iced tea and iced coffee

I’m hoping to sample more Fringe food this weekend before the festival wraps up! Do you have any favourites so far?

10 thoughts on “Food at the Fringe!

  1. The Mango Chicken at Zaika is very good! Gets a bit spicey at the end once you’ve eaten so much and the spiceness builds up, but the sweet sauce they provide for the samosa counter balances the heat.

  2. Thanks for checking out Cha Island! I’ve been meaning to as well, and now that I now it’s got something good I’ll be sure to head over.

    Also, it should go without saying, don’t have taco in a bag. 😛 Do try the old fashioned root beer in the barrels. It’s quite good.

    A question: why is there a pizza place from Calgary and an Indian vendor from Winnipeg at the Edmonton Fringe?

  3. Zaika was my first stop for Fringe food this year. Their fish pakora was Great, lightly breaded(if battered & deep fried I certainly couldn’t tell)chunks of basa with a cilantro(?)dip. They also provided a lemon wedge, which was nice. The chicken tikka skewer with rice is also quite good. I have to confess that-volunteering &-living just off-site, I doctored the last bits of each with both Nando’s hot sauce & chipotle ketchup*2 big thumbs up*

    I’ll definitely be visiting the restaurant now & shopping next door – see Liane Faulder’s Eat My Words entry.;-)

  4. Thanks for the photos of Cha! I’ve been meaning to get there, and the airy feel makes it look like my next office space—I’m a freelance writer, not a property developer. 😉

  5. Eva, Andrea and Darrell – I hope to try the food at Zaika before the Fringe is out!

    Jeff – I have no idea why the out-of-town vendors are here. Though I remember seeing that same Indian food vendor at the Folk Fest last year – perhaps they follow the festival scene?

    Thanks for the tip about the root beer! I had been eyeing them last weekend…

    Idris – Cha is definitely worth a visit!

  6. okay, clearly we need to up the ante when it comes to food at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Although, with all that deliciousness, maybe it would cut into the play-seeing time? *grin*

  7. Included Zaika’s nice plump samosas in the resurrection of a personal ‘end of Fringe’ tradition. For years I would do my last volunteer shift the final Sunday & after signing out, pick up a dozen nice plump samosas from Winnipeg’s India Palace. These of course went straight home, were allowed to cool a bit, then were foil-wrapped in twos & put in Zip-loc freezer bags. Viola, a bit of Fringe food in …Oct. or whenever!

    This year it was 1/2 a dozen-samosas-from Zaika, 1/2 a dozen from India Palace &(for my sweet tooth;-)) half a dozen deep fried Oreos(we’ll have to see how well they freeze*fingers crossed*)

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